BUILT in Ohio: Innovative Approaches to Smart Growth

Over-the-Rhine in Cincinnati, where the density and variety of building stock give it a unique sense of place

Over-the-Rhine in Cincinnati, where the density and variety of building stock give it a unique sense of place as well as an opportunity to build on its existing assets.

Earlier this month, CNT convened key civic leaders in the Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus regions to discuss the economic sustainability of recent transportation, housing and job development investments. As part of the Broadening Urban Investment to Leverage Transit (BUILT) in Ohio partnership with the Office of Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, CNT explored the impact of recent development trends and identified key market opportunities in transit-oriented development (TOD) and cargo-oriented development (COD) that will keep each region economically competitive.

CNT contrasted recent infrastructure investment decisions with an overbuilt housing market, rising transportation costs for households, escalating foreclosures in automobile-dependent communities, employment growth, and the spatial mismatch between commuters and their jobs. For instance, CNT’s research shows that because of state investment in highways and greenfield development, homebuilders constructed 131,000 more units than the market could support, just since 2000. Our analysis also showed, among other findings, that residents spent $22.3 billion per year just to cover their transportation needs—an amount that overshadows the $1.8 billion spent by the public sector.

Yet, at the same time, each region possesses enviable assets that could be mobilized towards an environmentally sustainable form of economic growth. By adapting to the competitiveness of rail and water freight, a shift in demographics, and investor preference for mixed use housing, CNT argued, each region can spark new investment and job growth in the form of COD and TOD.

Dozens of stakeholders in each region discussed with one another a strategy to organize and accelerate smart growth. Participants identified specific policies to spur urban development, like retrofitting older housing for the needs of seniors and an accelerated approval process for mixed-use development. Attendees also discussed organizing strategies to keep an open and inclusive dialogue. CNT will compile those implementation strategies in its final report for each region.

BUILT in Ohio is a one year partnership between CNT, the Urban Development and Infrastructure Office of Governor Strickland, and the regions of Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus to identify market opportunities and improve policy coordination on sustainable development. The project launched in October 2009 and is funded by Living Cities, a philanthropic group dedicated to addressing urban problems in a comprehensive way.

Read more about the BUILT in Ohio project (.pdf 70kb)

One Response to “BUILT in Ohio: Innovative Approaches to Smart Growth”

  1. Mitch Brown Says:

    Interesting and informative indeed! Our dense, multi-use and multi-modal urban centers are just waiting for innovative and creative citizens to re-purpose them for a competitive 21st century. An issue to consider is the finance industry’s influence on the built environment. Ever since the 1987 S&L scandal and Wall Street’s subsequent foray into the development arena (in the guise of REITs) the commoditization necessary for Wall Street to trade the built environment as a commodity has lead to a stifling restriction of finance opportunities. This effects especially hard our multi-use, multi-modal, multi-ethnic urban cores. Its something that will have to be dealt with if we’re to attract capital to these locations. Great information, thanks.